It is very unfortunate that Angela Eagle has dropped out of the Labour leadership race. It is high time the party elected a woman leader. Every time is not quite the right time. Eagle defied intimidation in her Wallasey constituency to be first to challenge Jeremy Corbyn but as so often in politics the frontrunner rarely wins the crown. Ask Michael Heseltine or Boris Johnson. Also the North is losing its representation at the top of British politics with the sacking of Tatton’s George Osborne as Chancellor and now the prospect of a Welshman (Owen Smith) battling it out with an Islington socialist for the Labour leadership.

All that said Owen Smith now deserves support. He looks like someone who has what it takes to actually lead a parliamentary party. That is what this leadership election will be all about. In policy terms there doesn’t seem to be that much between Corbyn and Smith but hopefully the latter will realise that you have to work with your Shadow Cabinet and not surround yourself with a cabal. The complaints of those who resigned from the shadow team about calls unanswered, meetings not attended and a lack of coordination on Labour’s message are too numerous to ignore.

The other attraction of Smith is that he seems to favour consulting the British people on the terms of any Brexit deal. This is going to be the central issue in British politics running up to the next general Election. The Brexiteers still can’t tell us what Brexit would mean for business leave alone working people facing a possible self induced recession. It is vital that parliament votes on whether to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and whatever Brexit Secretary David Davis comes up with is put to the British people. We need a coherent alliance of Labour led by Owen Smith, the SNP, Lib Dems and peers to allow the British people a say in the consequences of the crude binary choice offered on June 23. We may be able to add some Tories to that grouping. Former Attorney General Dominic Grieve has expressed his concern about us being taken out of the EU without further consultation with the voters.

The main problem is that the Tory government may have completed our exit in 2019, before the next General Election. I think an earlier poll is unlikely because the Prime Minister has ruled out seeking an immediate mandate from the people and a later move to overturn the fixed term legislation would look opportunistic. Also holding a General Election in the middle of the tortuous Brexit talks would pile on the uncertainty for business.


Brexit is creating all sorts of problems around funding and personnel in our science based northern universities. So it is timely that Europe’s largest interdisciplinary science meeting, EuroScience Open Forum (ESOF) is coming to Manchester this weekend. 4500 leading researchers and policy makers will be discussing what business opportunities will be created by using innovative technology in smart cities.

The programme director of ESOF is one of the unsung heroes of public service in the North West. Vicky Rosin’s forty years in local government started in Liverpool. She moved to Manchester Council and until recently was Deputy Chief Executive to Sir Howard Bernstein. She had key roles in the Commonwealth Games and exciting refurbishment of the city’s Central Library. Now it is ESOF which will include 600 speakers from 50 countries.




The dramatic fall of Tatton’s George Osborne, the vile atmosphere in the Labour Party and the opportunity offered to UKIP by Nigel Farage’s departure; just sit back and watch the three ring circus that is British politics.


For Northern business the most significant move of the new Prime Minister was the sacking of George Osborne. He was the only North West MP in the Cabinet and had driven the Northern Powerhouse (NP). We don’t know what the new Chancellor, Philip Hammond’s policy on devolution will be. We certainly know that leaders of northern cities are worried about

hundreds of millions of investment promises and possible signs of wavering on HS2.

Osborne deserved to go along with his buddy David Cameron. The two men were responsible for the disastrous referendum and that overwhelms even the considerable achievement of turning round the economy. Nevertheless Osborne knew the North and put the whole weight of his office behind devolution and the NP. If you have the Chancellor backing a project, it happens. if its an initiative of a more junior minister the chances of success are less certain.

We now see the broad shape of the May administration. The best we can say about the two at the top is that they are efficient politicians that get on with the job. Maybe that’s what the country needs. I remain to be convinced about May’s one nation rhetoric. We cannot even guarantee colour from Boris Johnson. They frown on tripwire antics in the Foreign Office. His roller coaster ride this year truly illustrates the unpredictability of politics. From loyal Remainer to traitorous Leaver, he was alarmed at his referendum success. Michael Gove detected this and sent him into political oblivion only for May to rescue him and rightly sack Gove from the Cabinet.

On the subject of the unpredictability of politics, look at the return of Dr Fox and David Davies. Fox left office in 2011 under a cloud and seemed like yesterday’s man. So did David Davies who lost the Tory leadership battle to Call Me Dave 11 years ago. Now they are deeply involved in ministries trying to get us out of the EU.


I don’t want to say much about Labour this week. It is too upsetting to see the party of Clement Atlee, Harold Wilson and Tony Blair reduced to a complete joke. Actually it is worse. Anyone who heard the trembling voice of National Executive Committee member Janet Baxter describing the atmosphere in this week’s meeting would never get involved in politics. She seemed on the edge of a nervous breakdown. What must the staff in the Wallasey office of leadership contender Angela Eagle be doing? Waiting for the next brick through the window?

The foul language of Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell this week in his description of some of his fellow MPs gives the lie to the leadership’s protestations that they want a clean fight. The minority of violent Trots pick up the vibes just as racists on the right have used the Leave vote to intimidate Polish immigrants.


UKIP should elect Steven Woolfe as their next leader. He’s a North West MEP and the party’s spokesman on finance. He is plausible and would not indulge in the bar room antics of his now departed leader Nigel Farage.

If UKIP can develop policies on health, housing, and social care as well as immigration, they could become a huge threat to Labour in the North and Midlands.

Let’s hope there is a strong centre left party to face them in 2020.